Panerai began making watches in Florence, Italy back in 1860, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that the firm produced its first wristwatch. By then its roots in Florence were as deep as those in Switzerland, where Panerai watches were produced.

The breakthrough for the company was an order for diving watches from the Italian Navy, for whom Panerai had been creating instruments of various types since the turn of the century. With a war coming on, the navy was keen to outfit its elite corps of frogmen with wristwatches.

Featuring a Rolex movement, the limited-edition Panerai Radiomir (only 300 were made) was designed for use by commandos and torpedo riders—frogmen who rode a slow-moving torpedo toward a target before attaching a timed mine to the underside of a ship and then riding away. The watches had a cushion-shaped case, a screw-down crown to keep water out of the movement, and oiled-leather straps that were long enough to be worn on the outside of a diving suit. Given their limited supply and the tough conditions they were subjected to, these watches are very highly prized by collectors today.

The watch took its name, Radiomir, from the luminous material that Panerai first developed in 1910. Made of zinc sulphide and radium bromide, Radiomir allowed the numbers and hands on a watch to be read in dark conditions. It was replaced in 1949 by Luminor, which glows thanks to the presence of tritium, a less-dangerous compound than radium bromide.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Panerai continued to produce wristwatches for the Italian Navy in regular and destro (left-handed) versions. Some watches from this period were known as Trittico watches, thanks to their trio of features, which included a depth gauge.

Panerai also made Kampfschwimmer watches, some with so-called California dials (numbers on the bottom, Roman numerals on the top), for Germany’s only postwar commando unit. And in 1956, Panerai created a large-face Radiomir watch for the Egyptian Navy.

Panerai might have remained a military diving watch in the minds of the public had it not been for Sylvester Stallone, who, in 1995, purchased a Luminor while on location in Italy. Sales of the watches jumped after its debut in Stallone’s “Daylight,” and Sly even had some watches—dubbed Slytech—made with his signature engraved on the back. These he gave as gifts to friends, including fellow action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Panerai Ferrari Ref 00019 Mint Condition ( Box And Papers)Mens Panerai 118 Pam 118 Luminor Marina Titanium !!!Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Pam00359 Wrist Watch For MenPanerai Pam00312 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days AutomaticPanerai Pam 104 E Luminor Marina Mint Cond Automatic W/ Date 44mm W/ Oem BoxPanerai Radiomir Black Seal Mens Watch Pam00183 Panerai Mens Radiomir Black Seal Stainless Steel Manual Watch Pam380 Box/papers Panerai Power Reserve Mint Certified Stainless Steel Pam 90Panerai Submersible Pam00024Panerai Black Rubber Watch Strap Band 24mm, W/deployment Buckle ClaspPanerai Radiomir Black Seal Watch - Black Pam292Panerai Pam 320 Luminor Gmt 3 Day Automatic Ss Wristwatch + Boxes Cert & Tools Panerai Brown Leather Strap Original 24x22mm Width 110x70cm Length $nr!!!Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days 47mm Titanium Pam305 New Authentic Panerai Pam 114 Luminor W/ Diamond CasePanerai Radiomir 3 Day Pam 424 47mm California Dial LnibPanerai Ferrari California Flyback ChronographPanerai New Oem Pam 6 Watch Collection BoxPanerai Pam 194 Submersible 2500 Meter Spec.ed Tritium Dial (100 % Genuine)Panerai Black Alligator Watch Strap Band 24mm, W/deployment Buckle Clasp26mm Strap Panerai Radiomir Distressed Leather With Pre-v BucklePanerai Watch Pam 188 Chrono White Face 44mm Black Leather Bnd & Rubber IncludedOem Panerai Wooden Presentation BoxPanerai Brown Alligator Watch Strap Band 24mm, W/deployment Buckle Clasp 24mm Steel Deployment Strap Bracelet For 44mm Panerai Panerai Green Canvas Strap Panerai Gold Calf Strap Panerai BuckleBeautiful Original Panerai Watch Preservation Case Made Of Pear Wood 2007Genuine Officine Panerai Brown Alligator Nubuck 22-20 Mens StrapCustom Handcrafted Strap For Panerai, X.mas Flottiglia All Black!Panerai Black Alligator Watch Strap Band 24mmPanerai Watches Collectable 10th Mas Flotilla PlatePanerai Strap Genuine 26 X 22Panerai Pam 114 Steel 44 Mm Luminor Base White Dial Pam 00114 Immaculate!!Panerai Black Colour Leather Strap Used Size 26 - No ReserveWatch Scratch Removal Satin / Brushed Steel Refinishing Pad For Panerai LuminorPanerai Dark Brown Colour Leather Strap Used Size 26 - No ReserveNew Model! Real Leather Strap For Panerai 24mm/22mm Watch (with Metal Skull)1000m Handmade Metta Catharina Leather Strap Ennebi Benarus Panerai By DelaurianReal Genuine Leather Strap For Panerai Watch 24mm/22mm - Best Quality And Deal! Black Rubber Diver Watch Band Strap 24mm Fit Panerai4 Watch Black Folder Traveling Storage Case Box Fit PaneraiOfficine Panerai Oem Plastic Bezel & Case Cover For WatchesHandmade Watch Strap 24mm For Panerai Includes Tubes Buckle Thick LeatherNew Design!24mm Super Luminova M.m Buckle For Panerai Watch Band Strap LuminorVintage Style 000 24 44 45 Mm Watch Leather Band Strap Dark Brown For Panerai

Recent News: Panerai Watches

Source: Google News

Panerai PAM 598 Radiomir 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso (PAM 598)
Perpetuelle.com (blog), October 1st

Reporting on the new many new pieces introduced at Watches & Wonders Hong Kong this year, here's your first look at the new Panerai Radiomir 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso (PAM 598). A real beauty, with a 47mm red gold case and Panerai's in-house ...Read more

Panerai Unveils New P.4000 Micro-Rotor Automatic Movement
Perpetuelle.com (blog), September 28th

At Watches & Wonders 2014, ongoing now in Hong Kong, Panerai has taken the covers off of its new automatic movement, the P.4000. The P.4000 is noteworthy as it is Panerai's first automatic caliber with a micro-rotor. The new caliber is being introduced...Read more

Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai - Mixed bag on day 3
Sail World, September 25th

Day three of the 2014 Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai, featured the right alchemy that makes sail racing perfect: good weather conditions, excitement and top level crews. The Classics had their course set in the area from Cap Roux to Cap ...Read more

Perfect conditions for day two of Regates Royales
My Sailing, September 24th

The second day of the 36th Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai was much luckier than the first one. Despite an unusual grey sky, yesterday's strong winds gave way to much more moderate conditions, allowing the Committee to launch a coastal ...Read more

The 36th Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai gets started
Boxscore, September 24th

It was under overcast skies that the yachts docked out of the Vieux Port for the first races of the 36th Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai, closing event of the Mediterranean classics circuit. The starting line for the Classics, positioned not far from...Read more

Regates Royales - Trophée Panerai: Legends in numbers
BYM News (press release), September 23rd

As expected, high force 5 to 6 winds swept the Bay of Cannes on the opening day of the 36th Regates Royales - Trophée Panerai, compelling the Race Committee to abandon racing for all classes. The crews waited expectantly until the decision by the ...Read more

Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai 2014 at the heart of history
Boxscore, September 15th

Sprinkle over some sportsmanship, a dose of fighting spirit, add a pinch of gentleman's attitude and you'll have the perfect recipe of the 2014 Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai. From September 20 to 28 more than one hundred classic boats and ...Read more

Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai - At the heart of history
Sail World, September 11th

Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai - Take a world-famous bay with varied and unpredictable weather conditions. Take an army of genius designers who created the most stunning sailing yachts of the last two centuries. Sprinkle over some sportsmanship, ...Read more